Critical thinking is regarded as an important skill for 21st century education. But what if we learnt to think critically not just about the subject matter we come across in our course content but rather about our life itself? What if we learn to know ourselves better so that we can be more aware of our daily choices, build better connections, and stay positive?
Keeping these thoughts in mind, we facilitate Emotional Intelligence 101- an introductory non credit course for undergraduates to improve their levels of self-awareness. Sarika Bhaukajee and Ashish Tiwari, undergraduates at King’s College, recently completed this 8 week course with us.
The Initial Resistance
As understandably so with students, having to go through a non-credit course feels like additional burden at the beginning. Ashish Tiwari, who says he wasn’t familiar with the concept of Emotional Intelligence before, admits to having a different perception about the concept when he first saw the class routine. “During the first class when I was taught the meaning of EI, how it works and why it is important, the entire misperception was changed. It is something we are doing, experiencing on a daily basis but we don’t realize it most of the time because of our lack of awareness.” recalls Ashish.
Regular to the classes, Sarika Bhaukajee admits to having had her struggles as an introvert. “ Being an introvert person, I never express my emotions to others. I never shared my thoughts. Still I feel difficulty in expressing but at least now I try to keep my thoughts. Another is I am a short tempered person but this class taught me to have control over my anger. Whenever I get frustrated, I realize the negative emotions in me and take a long deep breath and don’t talk to anyone for 1-2 minutes.”
Such steps maybe seemingly basic, but the course is designed to helping students make small meaningful changes to become a better version of themselves- around self awareness, emotional management, and forming meaningful relationships. Our approach, LISTEN (Listen, Introspect, Share, Try, Express, Nurture), helps students discover the process of self-reflection.
“Most undergraduates I’ve come to know have a hard time expressing themselves. They are a bit reluctant to share their thoughts, feelings, and stories. While there’s a lot of buzz around the need to improve presentation skills, we believe that there is work to be done at a more basic level- improving self-awareness” says Sagar Satyal, our co-founder, who led Ashish and Sarika during the course. “Our sessions are designed to make students reflect about their own lives- in a way that makes them realize their lives hold significance. Self-awareness eventually leads to better self-confidence”, says Sagar.
Having learnt different EI concepts for 8 weeks, Ashish and Sarika say the following take-aways stood out:
- Understanding that our strengths also have weaknesses.
- We hold the card in our inter-personal relationships and so rather than complaining, being emotionally intelligent means assessing the options we have and taking action that is fitting of the kind of person we would like to be.
- How important listening actually is, and how understanding others is difficult without skills of self-reflection.
For those who have never taken or heard of this course before, what should they be knowing? “This course makes us realize about our activities, behaviors, and thinking”, says Sarika. “You will recognize your emotions and get to know yourself better before trying to understand others”, says Ashish.
We are hopeful that passionate learners like Ashish and Sarika, through their continued application of the learnt emotional intelligence concepts, can help us further our mission of contributing to a self-aware and empathetic world.